“Otherworldly, lilting—there’s a surreal touch to Cundieff’s verse that can be downright hypnotic. In 'Everything Cruel Is Also Real,' we get a memory in second-person: 'you in a... [continued in Reviews below]”—Nick Ripatrazone, The Millions
The debut full-length poetry collection of Melissa Cundieff
This collection is musical, haunting, and simmering with life. Cundieff’s poems deal with loss and change through images that are startling in their originality. These poems will stay with you; they will remind you what poems can do.
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Reviews / Endorsements
"Otherworldly, lilting—there’s a surreal touch to Cundieff’s verse that can be downright hypnotic. In 'Everything Cruel Is Also Real,' we get a memory in second-person: 'you in a yellow dress against the condition / of your kite string. Taut, it lifts you with a thinnest white, / unwinding, tethered to you, kept like a conversation within your fists.'"—Nick Ripatrazone, The Millions
"...reading this I felt something fresh; so involving that I read slowly, because with Cundieff you have to — tough and scary and unrelenting — language that tightens then loosens, undermining everything we know as ordinary."
—Grace Cavalieri, Washington Independent Review of Books
"Darling Nova conjures a deep loneliness, the ache and anodyne of motherhood and daughterhood, and the finite scope of language, itself. There is much that distinguishes this collection from others—its subtle musicality and fierce, fearless imagery, for starters—but part of what makes these poems tick is also the incandescent steel of the voices underpinning the universe Cundieff creates."
http://www.theadroitjournal.org/blog/2018/4/17/review-darling-nova-by-melissa-cundieff-poetry—Cara Dees, The Adroit Journal
"Darling Nova turns the reader’s attention inward in a way that’s startlingly unfamiliar. Its poems dare to do the kind of introspective work that investigates grief and leaps toward insight. Any poet can make a reader experience their loss, but Cundieff finds a way to make her loss an opportunity for her reader’s growth. That ambition toward a poetry of healing, of moving through and beyond grief, makes Darling Nova worth the confrontation and certainly worth rereading." —Joshua Jones, The American Literary Review
“This collection of compellingly constructed narratives make new connections, new sparks, new thought as often as line to line. The poems are patient but not slow, engaging in constantly evocative language, however quiet they may at first appear. The language, finally, is quite simply alive and the collective thinking in this book is the stuff of the body’s own connective tissue. The voyage through these poems encompasses much—grief, love, humanness—but the narrative, the speaker, the events keep moving, so that we ourselves are moved.”—Alberto Ríos
"Melissa Cundieff’s deeply satisfying debut Darling Nova reminds us that living and loving requires us to be circadian with how we treat memory—it is every day that we must forget to remember, and we must remember to forget. These poems are alive with tenderness, temperance, and a tempestuous willingness to engage and render what is both vivid as well as invisible. “I wrote this today:” she writes, reminding us that it is both before and after the pause that the world begins." —Tarfia Faizullah
"In her new book Darling Nova, Melissa Cundieff plumbs the creative depths of the traumatized psyche to honor and lament, by equal measure, its summons to the past. Out of the cigarette smoke of human speech come the poet’s words: “Reminiscence is an augury / backwards, a slow bullet returning to us, now.” So vigorous the visionary hunger here, so hopeful and tragic the signature of testament and rebellion, it knows: the legacy of loss is neither forsaken nor immune from the forces of ruin and estrangement that are the pretext of renewal. Out of a wound we were born and so are born again. Such is the embodied wisdom here, the abiding vulnerability, courage, and compassion that figuration and reflection make possible, painful, luminous, sacramental; one part discovered, another forged. To go this deeply inward is to voice an aloneness that is ever searching and never alone. A truly dazzling book."—Bruce Bond
- Winner of the Autumn House Poetry Contest, selected by Alberto Rios (2017)
MELISSA CUNDIEFF received an MFA in poetry from Vanderbilt University, where she was the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in places such as Best of the Net, Crab Orchard Review, Ninth Letter, Four Way Review, TriQuarterly, The Adroit Journal, and Tongue: A Journal of Writing and Art. She has published a chapbook, Futures With Your Ghost. Originally from Texas, she lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.